The ultimate sustainability award at I-4: Envision® Platinum

Our I-4 Ultimate Improvement Project has won the prestigious Envision® Platinum award from the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI). I-4 Ultimate, the reconstruction of 21 miles of roadway in Central Florida, stands to be the largest project certified by Envision to date. I-4 Ultimate is one of Skanska’s three public-private partnerships (PPPs) in the United States in addition to LaGuardia Airport Central Terminal B in New York and the Elizabeth River Tunnels in Virginia. At Skanska, we are advocates for PPPs because they set the stage for successful sustainability planning by involving all parties – from the architects to the future operators – from day one.

“The entire I-4 Ultimate team is thrilled to receive this recognition for our efforts to protect the environment while creating a signature corridor for the entire region,” said Loreen Bobo, P.E. who is the I-4 Ultimate Construction Program Manager for the Florida Department of Transportation. “This award shows that sustainability goals are achievable alongside other primary missions of our agency to enhance the economic prosperity and preserve the quality of our environment and communities.”

Proposed rendering of the future SR 436 Interchange, which is currently one of the most congested intersections in Florida with more than 100,000 motorists traveling on it per day.

Our PPP team at I-4 Mobility Partners (I4MP) is doing more than building new infrastructure, it is also relocating protected wildlife such as tortoises and osprey, planting native trees such as elms and maples, and recycling 99 percent of the concrete and steel removed from roads and bridges.

Public spaces are being created to connect and engage the community through group sport activities, farmer’s markets, art fairs and parks. Residents will also be able to enjoy enhanced walkability, biking and public transportation options with connections to the SunRail commuter rail system and LYNX, Orlando’s local bus service. All in all, we are fully invested in improving the places where we work and live.

The proposed project design includes accent lighting, illuminated fountains, enhanced bridge architecture and architectural cladding.

“Since day one, our entire team has been committed to achieving the highest standards under Envision,” said Sal Taddeo, Chief Operating Officer East, Skanska USA Civil. “Our goal is to deliver one of the country’s most complex roadway projects while reaching a top level of sustainable infrastructure performance that can serve as a role model for other projects of its kind.”

The road to sustainable infrastructure

Created in 2012, Envision provides a framework for evaluating infrastructure projects similar to how the LEED® evaluation system works for building projects. The ranking consists of a broad range of criteria that address a project’s impact on the surrounding community and environment, technical considerations regarding materials and processes, and other critical choices spanning the project’s lifecycle. There are five categories measured: Quality of Life, Leadership, Natural World, Resource Allocation, and Climate and Risk.

I-4 Ultimate received high scores in three key categories:

Quality of Life: Central Florida’s local history and unique community character are being reflected in the design because there are hundreds of nearby buildings, districts and sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Several of these places are within the project limits, including the town of Eatonville, Griffin Park and the Holden-Parramore Historic District.

Founded in 1887, the town of Eatonville was the first incorporated African-American town in the US. The main road — Kennedy Boulevard which passes under the new I-4 project — once served as a wagon trail. Key landscape and historic features will be integrated into the bridge design at Kennedy Boulevard to honor the city’s history.

Leadership: To meet FDOT’s sustainability goals, an agenda was created early in the program to provide the project’s foundation. This includes social priorities such as health and safety, community involvement and business ethics; environmental priorities, including energy, carbon, materials, water and local impacts; and economic priorities such as project selection criteria, supply chain management and value added to society.

Natural World: A comprehensive Contamination Management Plan and Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure Plan was developed to prevent pollutants from contaminating soils, surface water and groundwater. Four underground storage tanks and 145 tons of petroleum that impacted soils and debris have been removed from the project site.

Invasive species are being controlled by removing existing Brazilian Pepper trees and Tropical Soda Apple shrubs along the project’s right-of-way while including non-invasive plants for landscaping and maintaining wetland functions.

The native landscaping proposed for this project includes up to 14,225 trees, 9,825 palms and 65,900 native shrubs and grasses.

Setting new sustainability records

In the fall of 2016, our Expo Line 2 Light Rail transit project in Los Angeles received Envision Platinum certification, making it the first transit project to receive the certification. Skanska has been involved in Envision since its inception and we are proud to see that momentum continues to grow. We are a charter member of ISI and we have supported more than 60 employees in achieving the Envision Sustainability Professional designation.

Moving forward, all of our PPPs in the U.S. must be either Envision or LEED certified, and by 2020 all of our U.S. civil infrastructure projects will seek Envision certification.

This marks the first time a Florida project has been honored by the ISI and the second time a Skanska project has been honored.

Thank you to our teammates at I-4 Mobility Partners

Our I-4 Mobility Partners team is designing, building, financing, and operating the project through a 40-year P3 concession agreement with a total design and construction cost of $2.323 billion dollars. We have two roles: one as an equity member through our Infrastructure Development group and a second as part of the SGL Constructors (SGL), which is the Skanska-led joint venture with Granite Construction Company and the Lane Construction Company.

Other members of the I4MP team include John Laing Invesments Limited; Design Joint Venture – HDR Engineering and Jacobs Engineering Group; and Infrastructure Corporation of America.

Skanska USA

Skanska USA

Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction and development companies in the U.S., serving a broad range of clients in the public and private sectors, including those in transportation, power, industrial, water/wastewater, healthcare, life science, education, sports & entertainment, data centers, government, aviation and commercial industries.

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A Week to Celebrate Green

This week, Skanska is helping to sponsor Greenbuild in Los Angeles, the world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to green building.

For the 2016 event, Greenbuild will – for the first time – feature a transit project as part of the program: the Skanska-built Expo Line Phase 2, the country’s first-ever Envision-certified light rail project and our first to achieve this celebrated designation.

The 6.6-mile extension of the Expo Line light rail was certified at Envision’s highest level, Platinum, and lays claim to another first: connecting downtown L.A. and the Santa Monica beach by train for the first time in more than six decades.

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Los Angeles’ Expo Line light-rail extension – which a Skanska-led joint venture designed and built – is the first light rail project to be certified under Envision, a sustainable infrastructure rating system gaining in popularity in the U.S. The 10.6-km (6.6-mile) extension was certified at Envision’s highest level, Platinum. Credit: Skanska USA.

Enabling the Platinum certification included specific project aspects such as the significant hiring of local craft labor, sourcing regional materials to the highest standards of the Envision program and integrating the new rail line with other means of transit, from bus systems to bike paths.

“This is a significant milestone for every stakeholder involved in this project,” says Skanska USA Chief Sustainability Officer Beth Heider. “Envision certification shows that no matter what you’re building, it can be built green.”

Helping Shape Envision

Administered by the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI), Envision consists of a broad range of criteria that address a project’s impact on the surrounding community and environment, technical considerations regarding materials and processes, and other critical choices spanning the project’s lifecycle. In key ways, Envision aligns with how Skanska defines sustainability.

As beneficial as Envision is, the current version is focused on the planning and design phases of a project, with little focus on construction. For the next version of Envision due out in 2018, Skanska has a key role in incorporating construction aspects throughout the system, and in leading the development of four credits focused on construction activities.

Ryan Prime, Skanska USA Civil’s sustainability director, chairs the ISI group overseeing the extension of Envision into construction. He finds his involvement “hugely motivating.”

“Week by week, it is becoming clear that Envision is gaining more and more traction in the industry,” Ryan says. “It makes me very proud to work for Skanska, which affords me the opportunity to be part of a major industry shift like this.”

Ryan adds: “I am also proud of how Skanska does business, particularly with our focus on values. It truly positions us to be a leader in sustainability.”

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The I-4 Ultimate public-private partnership (PPP) project in Orlando, Florida, is targeting Envision Platinum. Skanska’s consortium is responsible for financing, design, construction, operations and maintenance on this 34 km (21 mile) highway widening and reconstruction project. Credit: Skanska USA.

Everything Goes Back to the Environment

Major pieces of transportation infrastructure – such as bridges, roads and rail lines – might not call to mind environmentally beneficial projects.  U.S. civil infrastructure projects in many ways have been green, but have lacked a way to measure and guide their green activities. Envision provides a holistic framework to do that, enabling projects to aim for higher levels of green performance while also helping achieve broader sustainability goals over the long term.

“We believe that eco-certification helps drive innovation and efficiency, which is positive for everyone involved: our customers, the local communities and the environment, as well as our business,” says Greg Chant-Hall, head of sustainability for Skanska Infrastructure Development.

Deep commitment

As we chart our company’s Journey to Deep Green™, Skanska has made a strong commitment to integrate Envision into our U.S. civil infrastructure projects, similar to how we were among the first to embrace LEED when it was launched in 1998. We are a charter member of ISI, we are part of the ISI review board that oversees Envision, and we have supported more than 60 employees in achieving the Envision Sustainability Professional designation.

Moving forward, all of our public-private partnerships (PPPs) in the U.S. must be either Envision or LEED certified, and by 2020 all of our U.S. civil infrastructure projects will seek Envision certification.

“Skanska applauds USGBC’s announcement at the Greenbuild International Summit of a new relationship with ISI,” says Heider. “We look forward to what these two great organizations will achieve together transforming every corner of the built environment.

Skanska USA

Skanska USA

Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction and development companies in the U.S., serving a broad range of clients in the public and private sectors, including those in transportation, power, industrial, water/wastewater, healthcare, life science, education, sports & entertainment, data centers, government, aviation and commercial industries.

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Competing for a Sustainable Future

Each year, competition for the best young talent in the construction industry grows. Skanska has taken an innovative approach to recruitment by partnering with the Associated Schools of Construction (ASC) for its annual student competition.  Held every year in Nevada, this event attracts students from top construction and engineering schools including Oregon State, Virginia Tech, University of Washington and University of Florida.

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Project Executive Pat Prendergast discusses career opportunities at Skanska with interested student. Credit: Skanska USA.

“Between 2015 and 2016,  we have hired 33 candidates for positions on the East and West Coasts whom we found at this competition,” explained Skanska HR Service Manager Shannon Carver.

The problem statements and oral prompt portions of the competition are hypothetical, based on similar challenges Skanska teams have experienced on a project. Our team of judges looks for how individual students and teams adapt to changing circumstances, expectations and stress when scoring written responses and presentations.

Skanska sponsors the only Sustainable Building and LEED problem statement in the competition, drawing on our pool of sustainable projects.

This year, the Skanska competition problem statement focused on the Transbay Transit Center project in downtown San Francisco, which Skanska is currently building. The new center will replace the existing terminal and serve as a hub for 11 bus and rail systems, encouraging the use of public transportation and providing a more convenient, sustainable alternative for the estimated 100,000 daily passengers. At five stories tall, it will incorporate sustainable design features such as a 5.4 acre rooftop park.

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Senior Project Engineer Shelby Ohlund reviews student resume as they fill out Skanska’s app-based recruiting questionnaire. Credit: Skanska USA.

“I have had the opportunity to participate in and lead the problem statement team,” explained Project Manager, Dan Fredrick. “It always amazes me that the schools come back year after year saying they are excited to see how we are going to challenge them.”

The three-day event is overflowing with opportunities for students, faculty and staff to engage. While students work on their problem statements and presentations, the faculty and staff interact with and learn from industry leaders. Topics of discussion have ranged from sustainability and Great Boss strategies to diversity and inclusion.

The competition is also a professional development opportunity for Skanska employees. Over the course of five months, a group of Skanska employees from across Washington, Oregon, California and Arizona collaborate to produce the written and oral problem statements and prepare to recruit and interview potential candidates for employment.

“When we are creating these problems, we hope it will help students gain an understanding and appreciation of the green building methods that the construction industry employs, specifically Skanska, in day-to-day operations,” said Project Controls Engineer Brian Thomsen. “More than that, we hope that students will look to incorporate these ideas into their daily lives outside the classroom and in their future careers.”

As Skanska prepares for the 2017 competition, the team will look for ways to integrate Envision and other green strategies into the written and oral problem statements to continue to challenge students and share our continued efforts in building what matters.

For more about the competition, check out this video from ACS:

 

Skanska USA

Skanska USA

Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction and development companies in the U.S., serving a broad range of clients in the public and private sectors, including those in transportation, power, industrial, water/wastewater, healthcare, life science, education, sports & entertainment, data centers, government, aviation and commercial industries.

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How we are helping infrastructure projects be more sustainable

Skanska’s involvement with Envision started four years ago when I cold called Harvard University’s Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure, one of the collaborators behind this sustainable infrastructure rating tool.

I had heard about Envision, which was not yet rolled out, and it greatly interested me: After all, it seemed only natural that infrastructure be sustainable, and therefore that we should seek to minimize negative effects on communities and the environment while pushing to maximize resiliency, public benefits and flexibility over generations of use. Skanska’s desire to be a leader in green construction motivated me to share with company leaders what Envision meant for our industry, and how our company might support this initiative, which aligns with the Skanska Color Palette strategic green business framework.

Fast forward to today, and Envision is quickly becoming the industry standard by which to measure, guide and improve the long-term sustainability of civil infrastructure. Skanska’s senior leaders see the value in Envision, and have made it a priority to target Envision certification on key design-build projects, such as the I-4 Ultimate public-private partnership highway undertaking in Orlando, Fla. Even more, we have further demonstrated our commitment to Envision by becoming a charter member of the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI), the non-profit now managing the system.

I-4 Ultimate

Orlando’s I-4 Ultimate public-private partnership stands to be among the largest and highest-ranked projects certified by the Envision sustainable infrastructure rating system.

Envision’s next phase will extend it beyond its current planning and design focus and into construction. To that end, ISI is drafting a Construction Module that focuses on key issues during the relatively short typical construction duration; such issues include reducing excavated material taken offsite and mitigating temporary noise impacts. This will build upon big-picture topics such as climate adaptability and alternative transportation covered by the current Envision version. ISI has set up technical workgroups in each of the five Envision credit areas to review this module – I am heading up the Resource Allocation workgroup. Additionally, I am leading the Construction Workgroup that is overseeing the entire Construction Module, including the credit reviews done by the five workgroups. It is quite the honor to be involved with redefining the boundaries of design and construction in this way, and in addition my colleague Beth Heider, Skanska USA’s chief sustainability officer, also has a role to play in all this by contributing her expertise to ISI’s Envision Review Board, which provides general oversight for Envision.

Envision’s real power is that by following its guidelines – which are a list of best practices – you help positively shape projects. This leads to environmental benefits, certainly, but it also aids project teams in better mitigating risks, more efficiently managing resources, lowering costs through operational efficiency, and delivering projects that best meet both client and public needs. The actual certification at the end is an ancillary benefit. Even with Envision providing so much value, I spend a great deal of effort dispelling misconceptions, including that Envision is just about the environment, or that it adds costs, or that it’s only a paper exercise or a marketing tool with no value to core design and construction activities. Skanska is committed to Envision, and beyond my ISI responsibilities going forward I will be playing an integral role in leading Skanska’s Envision efforts.

It’s been very gratifying to see the quick pace at which the Envision system has been adopted. What provides me with even more motivation is knowing that the work I and others are doing really is improving how U.S. infrastructure is designed and built, resulting in even more benefits to local communities. Envision is truly a way to Build What Matters.

Ryan Prime

Ryan Prime

Project engineer

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